Shelby Harris, the oldest verifiable living resident in Illinois and the oldest man in the United States, will celebrate his 111th birthday today, Saturday, with relatives and friends at the Rock Island Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 2545 24th St.
Mr. Harris' day will begin with a birthday lunch of his favorite foods — catfish and collard greens, hush puppies, coleslaw, corn-on-the-cob and sweet potato pie.
The luncheon will be followed by a birthday party at 1 p.m. at the nursing home, where ice cream and cake will be served. Friends, relatives and members of his congregation, Second Baptist Church, will attend. Mr. Harris served as deacon of Second Baptist until he was 102 years old.
Mr. Harris will fulfill one of the wishes left on his "bucket list" Thursday when he throws out the first pitch on opening day for The River Bandits A minor league baseball game at 7 p.m. at Modern Woodmen Park, Davenport. Playing baseball and possibly getting married again are two things left on his list.
Born March 31, 1901, in southern Indiana, Mr. Harris first worked in the coal mines of the region. He moved to the Quad-Cities in 1942 before enlisting in the Army during World War II. He later took a job with the former Union Malleable, later the John Deere Foundry in East Moline.
He entered Rock Island Nursing & Rehabilitation Center when he was 105. He has outlived two wives and three daughters. He is a great-great-great-great grandfather. His youngest grandson is 57.
A grandson, Al Hurt, says his grandfather takes good care of himself and still has a good memory. Mr. Harris is a life-long Democrat, having voted for John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Barack Obama in 2008. Mr. Harris credits his longevity to his faith in God.
Today is Wednesday, Sept. 17, the 260th day of 2014. There are 105 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: We are told league merchants have paid no attention to the prohibition on selling ammunition, but continue to sell just as before the order was issued. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The Rev. R.F. Sweet, rector of Trinity Episcopal Parish, left for the East to visit his boyhood home in Boston before attending the general convention of the Episcopal Church in New York. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Dr. E.A. Anderson was named to succeed Dr. E.L. Kerns as head physician of the Modern Woodmen of America, and moved to Rock Island from Holdingford, Minn. 1939 -- 75 years ago: One week late, because of the outbreak of war, Dr. E.L. Beyer resumed his work as professor of romance languages at Augustana College. Dr. and Mrs. Beyer left Germany on the last train to the Belgian border. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Employees in Turnstyle stores in Moline and Davenport will vote Oct. 2 in an election set up by the Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Employees will vote either for the Retail Clerk International or for no union. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Rock Island High School is considering a step to help teen moms stay in school and get their diploma. The school board is expected to vote tonight on instituting an on-site child care center.